’Splain Yourself Lucy

I haven’t finished a first draft of my novel. I finally understand who my characters are, what they want, and what’s in their way of getting it.

But, I was supposed to have finished a first draft of my novel for the class I’m scheduled to take in Iowa, which starts in two weeks. I only need to submit 35 pages to the class, so I can wing it.

But the class description says, “After working on your novel for six months or a year or—say it proudly—ten years, you’re finally ready to show it to other people.”

I think that means I should have a first draft.

I signed up for the class in January, thinking that it would provide me the incentive I needed to get the draft finished. But then, as I discovered one of the characters and as the plot took a new twist – well, I just don’t have a complete draft.

So, last night, at the first Literary Café, I asked should I come clean, or should I just wing it.

My friend, Jim said, “Every episode of I Love Lucy starts with her telling a lie.”


When I was a kid, living in Saudi Arabia, I never went trick or treating for candy. I went trick or treating for UNICEF – in my Girl Scout uniform.

When I was 30, living in San Francisco, totally broke, and active in the Gray Panthers, a group I knew from the Gray Panthers decided to go out on Halloween as a group. We would dress up as crayons.

The tag line of Gray Panthers was “Youth and Age in Action.” It was a multigenerational approach to fighting ageism. Perhaps that’s why we were going out on Halloween. Experiencing our multgenerationalness.

We each got two pieces of poster board in the color of the crayon we had chosen to be. Mine was black. We spray painted party hats so we could have points for the crayons, used a stencil to spray paint “Crayola” in the middle and the squiggly lines at the top and bottom of the poster board, stapled the two pieces together, and punched holes so we could attach straps. We wore leotards and tights the color we chose to be.

I carted us from place to place in my 1971 Volkswagen bus. I thought about putting a sign on the front that said, “Sharpener in the back,” but ran out of time.

So here are the three things I learned from that night:

You could still do good work and dress in a costume for Halloween.

When you don a costume, you become the character of the costume.

Crayons really do go out on adventures at night while we sleep, and that’s how they know what to draw and color.

That last thing is the truth.

It’s also true that I haven’t finished a first draft of my novel.

I think that Girl Scouts, like Boy Scouts, aren’t supposed to tell lies.

So, I need to come clean. I think that I can still get something from the class, even though I don’t have the novel finished.

But I really don’t want to have to face Ricky asking me to ’splain myself.

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